Tuesday, 18 April 2017

£35k For "Openness?"



Chief Minister Ian Gorst

After a Written Question tabled by Deputy Russell Labey (below) to the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst,we have learnt (as if we didn't know already) that our Ministers/Assistant Ministers and their officers don't know how to be open and informative with the public.

We learn that they have spent £35,000 on what looks like a PR spin company (Portland Communications) to learn the art of openness and informativeness. This begs the question; "what are the States Communication Unit being paid (around 300k a year) for?" Further, if our elected politicians don't know how to be open and informative, is a PR (spin) company the best people to ask? Will the £35k be taken out of the States Communications Unit's budget?


Deputy Russell Labey


WRITTEN QUESTION TO THE CHIEF MINISTER
BY DEPUTY R. LABEY OF ST. HELIER ANSWER TO BE TABLED ON TUESDAY 18TH APRIL 2017

Will the Chief Minister advise if the services of Portland Communications have been engaged by the States of Jersey to provide media training to Ministers and/or others in preparation for the publication of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry’s report, or for any other reason, and, if so:

1. (a) which Ministers or other personnel are receiving this training;

2. (b) if the cost of the programme including fees, flights and accommodation are to be met by the tax payer, how much will this amount to; and 

3. (c) what is the brief Portland Communications are working to and what exactly is the firm charged with delivering for the government?

Answer

Portland Communications were first engaged as a result of an open competitive tendering process initiated in 2011 by the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey for the provision of combined strategic support to the Islands, which at the time was mainly in relation to UK matters.

During 2012 and 2013, Portland Communications provided advice on UK Party conferences, Global transparency initiatives, FATCA and enhanced engagement with a number of key European countries. Since the offices in London, Brussels and Caen have become more fully established, in partnership with the Bailiwick of Guernsey, those offices have been able to take on these functions and Portland Communications is now engaged only to provide additional strategic advice, as needed, on matters where there is strong national or international interest.

Most recently, this has included the provision of advice on how best to engage with the anticipated national and international interest in the report to be published this year by the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry. The aim is to improve upon the past handling of such matters by the Island and being fully open and informative in the public response.

This strategic advice includes matters relating to anticipated national and international media interest and has been provided to officers and relevant Ministers (the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister/Minister for Health and Social Services, Minister for Education and Minister for Home Affairs), usually during telephone calls. In 2017 this has also involved the relevant Ministers visiting the offices of Portland Communications in London as convenient (usually when in London for other personal or official business).

Portland Communications has received £33,500 from the Department for Community and Constitutional Affairs for the provision of this strategic advice and support, with the aim of enhancing the provision of public information, including to the national and international media, following the release of the report by the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.
(END)

Being open means telling (the sometimes uncomfortable) truth. Being informative is telling/publishing the facts without using spin and Spin Doctors. Paying £35k to Spin Doctors doesn't instil confidence that we are not going to get a load of spin from our leaders when the Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry publishes its report and the infamous "Jersey Way" continues.........................

41 comments:

  1. Will be interesting to see when exactly the media training aspect of this took place, given when I have previously asked written questions about what media training Ministers have had I was told only the Social Security Minister had had training!

    Wouldn't be the first time we've been provided with inaccurate answers though...

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    Replies
    1. What did the useless Susie get training on? How to walk and talk utter kak at the same time?

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    2. Pinel is so awful I reckon she even makes the appalling, incoherent babbling of former Assistant SS Minister ex-Deputy Angela Jeune look half capable.

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  2. Oh dear, oh dear. Wikipedia says that the ' main man' at Portland Communications was an advisor to Tony Blair!! In other words an expert in spin, bullshit and lies which should come in very handy when the Inquiry report sees the light of day. If a candidate stands for election, surely they should be well versed in public speaking and communication in any event. However, after today's showings in the States all I can say is 'Quelle embarassement'! Why should the taxpayer be paying twice for these people to do their jobs professionally?

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  3. Spin, bullshit and lies you say Jill. Looks like Ports of Jersey have been caught with their trousers down and an assistant chief minister won't come clean,

    http://planetjersey.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=2895.msg61346#msg61346

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  4. Portland Communication are indeed up to the neck with the Tony Blair set. They have been very busy over recent years doing their utmost to trash Corbyn using disinformation techniques. Not a nice bunch at all, though no doubt extremely competent at what they do. I will just look up my files and post a bit more in a minute or two.

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  5. As I promised earlier, some more on Portland Communications – a nice bunch of guys, maybe NOT.

    “A couple of days earlier, in common with other corporate news media, the BBC pushed a manufactured story about Corbyn being heckled at Gay Pride. The staged incident was also given significant coverage on ITN and Sky News, and even front-page treatment in the Guardian. In fact, as Craig Murray observed, the 'heckler' turned out to be Tom Mauchline who works for the public relations firm Portland Communications”

    Hmmmm. So Portland Communications is a company that thinks it is OK for an employee to heckle Jeremy Corbyn posing as a “Labour activist” when in fact he is their paid employee.

    OK, as in “ethically OK”. Or maybe, just maybe, Mr. Mauchline was operating outside company guidelines, flying solo, I think this is called. But if you view the video (reference below), then you will agree with me that this is unlikely. His lines of attack are just too PR-wise, too perfectly designed to achieve maximum damage to Corbyn in minimum time.. The video shows it all, Mauchline maybe thought he would not be found out.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/25/jeremy-corbyn-vows-to-face-down-any-leadership-challenge-brexit

    The article continues:

    “Mauchline had also previously worked on the Liz Kendall campaign for the Labour leadership. Portland's 'strategic counsel' is the notorious Alastair Campbell, Blair's former media chief who helped to sell the illegal invasion-occupation of Iraq. None of this was spelled out in the Guardian report by Heather Stewart, the paper's political editor. Instead, there was a single cryptic line that concealed more than it delivered:

    “'Allies of the Labour leader said the confrontation at Pride had been staged by anti-Corbyn activists who were attempting to undermine the leader's position'.

    “There was no further explanation or context. When challenged on Twitter, Stewart responded:

    'Story makes clear it was regarded as staged by Corbyn backers; but if part of plot to destabilise him it's news.'

    “This was a facile reply. Craig Murray himself then asked her:

    '1) why does it not make clear that Mauchline is a PR man for Portland Comms? 2) How did you become aware of the story?'

    “As far as we can see, the Guardian's political editor simply ignored the awkward questions.”

    So, definitely, dirty tricks.

    The Guardian report reference is the one above, with the video.

    Here is a bit more on Portland:

    “The independent journalist Steve Topple highlights the links between coordinated attacks on Corbyn and a network of Labour figures with direct links to the PR company, Portland Communications. The PR firm was set up in 2001 by a former adviser to Blair. Its clients include the World Economic Forum, the EU, the UK government, Barclays Bank and large companies, including Morrisons and Nestle.”

    The Steve Topple article is detailed and explains exactly who’s who at Portland and how it is the very centre of all the corridors-of-power moves to get rid of Corbyn (who enjoys massive grassroots support in the membership) and return the Labour Party by hook or by crook to being a neo-liberal corporation-friendly centre-right party. It is here:

    https://www.thecanary.co/2016/06/28/truth-behind-labour-coup-really-began-manufactured-exclusive/

    My source for the quotes above is Media Lens, and I have to say the whole article is about the best introduction to how the media really works in the UK, a real eye-opener, bending or suppressing the facts to suit their own agenda.

    http://medialens.org/index.php?option=com_acymailing&ctrl=archive&task=view&mailid=396&key=598fd53501f3746e84777e49c89f79bc&subid=9991-b42b072e3fc3e609897ba6e2796ef991&tmpl=component

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  6. So amongst those to "benefit" from the training and guidance provided by Portland Communications on being "being fully open and informative" was Chief Minister Ian Gorst.

    Is our chief minister incapable of learning such training or is the line about "being fully open and informative" a PR lie?

    The Jersey way of being open and informative:

    http://voiceforchildren.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/ian-gorsts-guide-to-galaxy.html


    “Will the Chief Minister state whether, following the publication of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report entitled ‘Jersey Innovation Fund’ (R.3/2017), Senator Farnham and/or Senator Maclean offered to resign as Ministers or whether he, as Chief Minister, asked them to resign?”

    If this [video] didn't make such a mockery of our so called "Democratic Process" it could almost be funny. The fact that the (unelected/unaccountable) Chair(s) of the States Assembly rule it perfectly acceptable for the Chef Minister (and by implication ANY Minister) to "come out with their own version of 42" in "answer" to any question makes the whole so-called "Democratic Process" that much more (almost) laughable and tragic............

    http://voiceforchildren.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/ian-gorsts-guide-to-galaxy.html

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  7. I would have thought they could have saved the money by simply asking Frank Walker for free advice.

    His performance on Newsnight with Stuart Syvret way back is surely a classic and qualifies him admirably to dish up put-downs on anyone rash enough to contemplate telling the truth and thereby "shafting Jersey".

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  8. The other question which needs to be asked is will the Victims/survivors be given "equality of arms?" Will the Chief Minister fund media training for them?

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  9. @Voice at 9:27

    You mean like the Inquiry funded legal advice for Stuart Syvret?

    And then clumsily tried to hide their decision on their website?

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  10. Have not yet heard Christian May speak as Brexit PR for Sen Bailhache & Co - how many other States Departments have their own PR people. The States Police used to have somebody and CO Bowron seems to say very little on operational or policy matters. Who speaks for the Crown Officers, or Parishes or Andium or JT? Does anybody have any sort of list of the PR engagement and cost implications now that we are all soon to become E-Gov zombies. Do we even know how many staff are employed by the Communications Unit so called which never communicates with me these days or invites only the select few to "Press" events and briefings when the "accredited media" receive their scripts.

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  11. This revelation about the Chief Minister's expensive new media spin doctors having been exposed as faking attacks on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says so much. I mean we all know Gorst, Bailhache and co are singing from the same right wing hymn sheet as Tpry Tonoy Blaire and the late Adolf Thatcher but really!

    As for your photo of the great one atop this story I'm afraid it really makes me wonder of David Icke wasn't right about power being secretly in the hands of shape-shifting lizards?

    My final question is to echo what exactly do we taxpayers foot the bill for the States Communications UNit for?

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  12. Isn't the Chief Minister's answer also very telling of what he thinks of the local mainstream media? If I was a local journalist I would feel insulted if not embarrassed. He is paying thousands of pounds to know how to deal with national/international media but has no visible worries about the local media.

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  13. If this is professional advice being delivered from the UK and seemingly training in the UK then it will attract the top rate of VAT .Has that been added to the cost ?

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    Replies
    1. As non- business customers where the service has been supplied outside the EC ( note not EU) then UK VaT would not apply. Ministers going to London and receiving training on the other hand would attract VAT imho

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  14. Another trick that has not been picked up on is that all communications between the Ministers/Assistant Ministers/Civil Servants looks to have been conducted through telephone calls and face-to-face meetings with Portland Communications. The more skeptical reader might believe this was done in order not to leave any kind of a paper trail that could be subject to a Freedom of Information request. It certainly doesn't look like our leaders are seeking to be "open and informative."

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  15. Good point raised at 12.27 about the States Communications Unit.

    What do they do?

    Who are they?

    Who heads it up?

    How much does whatever they do cost us?

    I think I am correct that someone tried in vain to get rid of this unit a few years ago?

    If I am right can any reader recall who it was?

    More importantly why he or she was unsuccessful?

    The Communications Unit should surely be able to provide any training needed?

    Not that ministers should need this to tell the truth.

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  16. Is it that the Chief Minister can't answer the questions until Portland have ok'd them.

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    Replies
    1. Shameful that Jersey has employed a company exposed as orchestrating fake attacks on Jeremy Corbyn. Perhaps the Jersey Establishment are really looking for training on new ways to orchestrate fakes smears on progressives?

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  17. Some might find it deeply ironic that Portland Communications tried to edit the disambiguation on the Stella Artois page to remove a link to 'wife beater'.
    These are real 'post-truth' merchants, the use by the CoM to 'respond accurately' is pathetic.But is that all ? Do we know what the terms of engagement really are? Could it be that they were selected for their very effective capability to manufacture false stories and create negative trolling ( beyond the limit idle capabilities of Jon I suspect) , we paid for this an FOI should expose why.

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  18. Lol got spellchecked from limited to limit idle , sorry Jon , hope Portland offer you more cash.

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  19. Excellent editorial on this issue by Andy Sibcy (JEP) this evening echoing the general consensus of opinion over this issue.

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  20. Can the writer of comment 15:24 please explain what they mean in plain English?!

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    Replies
    1. Read it s l o w l y !

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    2. Makes no sense.
      Gobbledygook.

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    3. Look up Portland Communications on Wikipedia ( hint it's an online sort of encyclopaedia).

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  21. Any chance of that editorial copied here, for those of us who don't entertain the Rag anymore.

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    Replies
    1. I will do my jolly best, but it will have to be in the morning I'm afraid.

      Delete
  22. To answer a question above it was ex Deputy Trevor Pitman who tried to get rid of the Communications Unit arguing that they were a waste of money and that ministers should be able to do their own press releases. He was right.

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  23. We learn today that they paid £18,000 for 12days work from another spin doctor..

    Probably need it just for the load of lies spewed by Deputy Andrew Lewis.

    They might as well just call in Besco Laundry

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    Replies
    1. Trevor Pitman eh? Wouldn't he be having a field day with this latest jaw-dropping revelation? Come on Reform Jersey. Lodge a no confidence vote in Gorst and his puppets.

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  24. Totally outrageous, squander,squander, spend, spend all in order to cover up lies, spin and cover-up.

    Rico - I don' think an army of PR men could dig Andrew Lewis out of the doo-doo. He almost drowned himself in it at the Inquiry. Sink or swim - I'd opt for sink.

    Yet another excellent editorial from Andy Sibcy tonight on this latest revelation.

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  25. May I repeat the request made by another reader, who asked for your local papers's editorial comment to be reproduced here?

    Or is it available somewhere else?

    Thanks

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  26. £51.000 to try and con we islanders that our esteemed Council of Ministers actually know what they are talking about. What an absolute disgrace and waste of our money. To put this in perspective this a couple of much needed nurses wages we are talking about.

    Why is it that we in Jersey have for election after election allowed those who could not carry a coherent speech in a bucket to take all the senior positions in government? Whether you are right or left politically, and I would say that I am a bit of both if slightly more to the left, the fact is it is the minority of lefties who always seem able to make a clear arguement in a speech.

    Just consider Syvret, Trevor Pitman, even Geoff SDouthern all the way up to young Sam Mezec. I think it is high time we gave these radicals a chance. They can hardly do any worse and at least we will understand their speeches about what they are doing.

    I'll say it again. £51.000 is an absolute shocker and not even an apology from Gorst. I for one will be going on what the care inquiry report says, not what some minister tells me by way of a Tory spin-doctor.

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    Replies
    1. Regarding the above comment. If only we could give Trevor Pitman a chance at next election. Badly missed in what passes here for government.

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  27. I could have saved us taxpayers north of £60k. and rising.

    Ian all you have to remember is Deflect,Deny, Discredit, Dismiss, Distance And Delivered already.

    Of course add you usual umm urrs nrrg ,liberally ,to show the public speaking training hasn't worked either.

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  28. Let us conclude that it is likely just the ministers of ESC, Health and maybe Home Affairs on top of Gorst getting this 'training' and possibly the States CEO?

    That works out at a ball park figure of £10,000 each to teach a numpty to mumble about lessons having been learnt, time to move on etc. Makes you want to puke up your pot noodle.

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  29. Still seeking the editorial leader comment from your local newspaper.

    Is there some reason why you won't or can't reproduce it here VFC?

    If it is available somewhere else, fine, but could we be told where?

    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. My fault - I am going to copy and send to VFC to see if he can reproduce on here for you. Not forgotten but just busy, busy. Promise VFC will receive it tomorrow!

      Delete
  30. Could it be possible that the real reason of the COI report delay is because they were asked to wait for the Ministers to be trained and prepared to respond. If so it must be a more honest report than we all expected.

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